San Francisco-based Vista is a private equity firm focused on software and technology-enabled businesses. Just last month, Vista acquired Tysons Corner, Va.-based Cvent, a cloud-based enterprise event management company, for $1.65 billion.
In a statement this morning, Fernandez said the Marketo board of directors concluded the sale was in the best interest of the San Mateo, Calif.-based marketing automation powerhouse and its shareholders.
"The acquisition will allow Marketo to continue to focus on customer success and to remain the independent category leader, continuing to set the agenda for product innovation and thought leadership for the entire digital marketing industry. It will also enable us to successfully deliver on the bold vision we recently set forth — to give tomorrow's marketers and the C-suite an ultra-high-scale enterprise platform for customer engagement," he said.
He added that Vista has "pioneered a unique new investment and operating model" for high-growth Software-as-a-Service companies with "best-in-class software products and referenceable customers," adding, "Since Marketo has always been about growth, this lines up perfectly with our vision."
Brian Sheth, co-founder and president of Vista, said the firm will help Fernandez and the broader Marketo team "accelerate innovation, growth and excellence." Vista already had about a 1.88 percent investment in Marketo, US Securities and Exchange Documents show.
Marketo headquarters will remain in San Mateo. Subject to customary closing conditions, including shareholder and regulatory approvals, the transaction is expected to close in the third quarter this year.
Marketo, which went public in 2013, has retained Morgan Stanley as financial advisor and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati as legal advisor. Kirkland & Ellis LLP is Vista's legal advisor.
More Than 2 Years of Speculation
Marketo stock soared earlier this month amid reports the company was considering strategic options, including a sale.
Reports surfaced over the buzz of Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit in Las Vegas that Marketo was working with Morgan Stanley on possible sale to Microsoft or SAP. The rumors came on the heels of similar chatter last month.
But talk of an acquisition actually stretch back more than two years. In a story in 2014, CMSWire Contributing Author Robert DeFrancesco spelled out why Marketo was a likely buyout candidate.
"Based on its product innovations and growth, analysts think Marketo is the next big marketing solutions company ready to be acquired," DeFrancesco wrote. "Companies like SAP and NetSuite, which could benefit from Marketo's cloud computing offerings, have been mentioned as possible buyers.
"Marketo has been called the last standalone left in the space. Although Fernandez has said he is committed to staying independent, he has also acknowledged his company could be sold at the right price.
"So despite the challenges of integrating one company's platforms into another, an acquisition may be inevitable."
New Owner: Not Consolidation
Industry observers were quick to restate that the deal did not represent consolidation.